Texas Residents Prepare to Get $500 a Month Direct Payments

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Residents in Texas are about to receive a $500 per month payment to alleviate poverty in the state. This guaranteed income plan will start in a single county but will spread all over the state as time passes. Let’s examine what this means for Texas in the long run.

Nearly 2000 Families At The Start

The initiative is supposed to roll out in Harris County, which encompasses all of Houston. The Uplift Harris guaranteed income plan is the first of its kind in Texas.

Source: Flickr/Julian Ortiz

Over 83,000 applicants submitted their families to be considered for the grant, but the state limited the number of people eligible to receive the payment to 1,928.

The Scheme Will Run for 18 Months

The Uplift Harris income plan is scheduled to run for 18 months. In that time, the state will see what difference it has made in those households that got the extra income.

Source: Flickr/Andreanna Moya Photography

Texas is usually a highly conservative state, and seeing them consider a form of guaranteed universal income disbursement is uncharacteristic, but it might signal other things in the future.

Addressing Economic Inequality

Uplift Harris is an approach that aims to address economic inequality and alleviate poverty in certain states under the 2021 federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Source: Flickr/M. Jeremy Goldman

The plan came about after COVID-19 highlighted the widening gap between high-income and low-income households. The $ 500-a-month stipend is supposed to ease that gap.

Criteria Was Randomized

When the state decided to implement this system, they didn’t want to have a bias in selecting the families that would be included in the first run of the distribution.

Source: Flickr/Bruno Fernandez

As a result, the selection criteria required households to meet certain basic requirements to be included, from where they would be selected using a random lottery method.

Must Be Below the Poverty Line

Since the aim of this plan was to address inequality and poverty, the families that qualified had to have an income that was 200% less than the federal poverty rate.

Source: Flickr/Tony Evans

The grant also paid attention to the zip codes of people living in certain parts of Harris County that had a much higher level of poverty and inequality than other areas.

A Much-Needed Boost

Harris County demonstrates one of the highest rates of economic inequality in the country. Recent estimates show that 16.4% of its residents live below the poverty line.

Source:Flickr/US Air Force

Because of the massive inequality that COVID-19 exposed, this influx of cash is expected to help move residents out of abject poverty and allow them to have a better standard of living.

Should Not Be Political

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo noted that offering financial security to families should not be a political debate but a question of human decency by lawmakers.

Source: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

County leaders have a responsibility to those who put them in power to address the increasing poverty rate in Harris County compared to other parts of the United States.

Looking Into Implementing This Program Long Term

Judge Hidalgo noted that if the results were good at the end of the 18-month pilot run, the officials might consider rolling out this plan long-term.

Source: Flickr/verkeorg

Of course, funding a program like this isn’t easy. While funding for this might come from the federal government in its initial iteration, the state will need to find ways to fund it beyond its initial projection.

Not The First Of Its Kind

While Texas is a conservative state, it has previously dabbled in offering a basic income package distribution aside from the stipend that the federal government provided during COVID-19.

Source: Flickr/Curtis Simmons

Austin has a guaranteed basic income program that paid 135 households $1,000 per month between September 2022 and September 2023. So why would a state like Texas embark on something that seems so “socialist” in its design?

Better For Social Assistance

Research into universal basic income as a social assistance measure has shown that it offers far better returns than other approaches. Giving people direct funding allows them to spend it on things they need.

Source: Flickr/M M

The big problem that many states have with social assistance programs is that they worry the assistance will not go to the people who need it the most. Other concerns come from making people dependent.

Universal Income Is A Way Off

Many people state that seeing income distributed to the poorest citizens means that universal basic income as a concept is well on its way. This argument has several holes.

Source: KALW

A UBI has already been implemented in areas in the US with some success. However, funding a UBI that would support the needs of the entire state is more than most states can budget for.

The Most Vulnerable People Need the Support

Texas lawmakers believe that the income distribution would support the poorest communities the most. Directly injecting cash into these households would also stimulate the economy.

Source: Flickr/ Geremy F

Harris County demonstrates that a massive income gap puts a lot of families at a significant disadvantage. The most vulnerable people in the community require the government’s support to live from month to month.

Will We See This In Other States?

Wealth distribution has changed significantly over time, but there are still widening gaps between the classes of people in society. Most states aren’t considering plans like this to alleviate poverty.

Source: Flickr/Andrew Malone

Several opponents to the plan say that introducing this would make low-income households more dependent on the state and less likely to look for work. This is a common argument against basic income distribution.

People’s Lives Are Not Political Footballs

Judge Hidalgo was right to state that wealth inequality and families’ ability to sustain their lives are not political problems. However, they require lawmakers’ attention to ensure that these people have something to live on.

Source: Flickr/Daniel X. O’Neil

While this should be common knowledge, it’s not treated that way by many people. Instead, lawmakers use plans like these to push their political capital or as debating points for or against universal basic income. This plan will considerably impact some families in Texas, and those are the most important people when it comes to this project.

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Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

Sally, a dynamic and viral writer, has taken the literary world by storm with her exceptional storytelling prowess. With an uncanny ability to tap into the collective consciousness of her readers, she crafts narratives that resonate deeply and linger long after the last word is read.

Born with a creative spirit, Sally honed her writing skills from a young age, cultivating a unique voice that blends emotion, wit, and social insight. Her work spans a wide spectrum, from poignant short stories that tug at the heartstrings to thought-provoking essays that challenge conventional thinking.

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